Mobile operators row over Crimean roaming

Over in Ukraine, a row has erupted over mobile network provision in Russian-occupied Crimea, reports BBC Monitoring.

The disagreement centres on Ukrainian operator MTS-Ukraina, which is shutting down service on the Crimean peninsula after local authorities closed down its network in the capital, Simferopol.

Or so it says.

A man the BBC identifies as Crimean communications chief, Dmitry Polonksy, has countered with the claim that MTS-Ukraina is leaving town entirely of its own accord and that there is nothing to see here (move along please).

But coincidentally the Russians have just announced that their network, K-Telecom, is moving in on MTS-Ukraina’s patch having taken over its frequency bands.

Now, it seems that there is more than one K-Telecom operating in Russia, and nobody really knows which one the Russians are talking about. But there is now speculation it could be owned by Moscow-based network operator Mobile TeleSystems or MTS, which just happens to (you might be ahead of me here) also be the parent of MTS-Ukraina.

So are we in fact witnessing a crafty bit of manoeuvring to ensure that MTS avoids becoming the subject of American sanctions? Russian news agency ITAR-TASS suggests this could be the case, but with confusion reigning throughout the region, who really knows what the truth of the situation may be?